The Taoiseach has said that the government will be accepting all advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team to lift almost all remaining Covid-19 measures from 28 February.
Changes will include an end to mandatory mask-wearing and an end to PCR testing for most under-55s.
NPHET itself, as advised in the letter to Government, will also be stood down.
Speaking in Brussels yesterday, Micheál Martin said that the country is transitioning out of the emergency phase of the pandemic.
A detailed letter from NPHET was received by the Government on Thursday night, which outlined advice that mandatory mask-wearing and measures in education and childcare could be removed from 28 February.
Most people under the age of 55 will no longer be required to test for Covid-19, even if they are showing symptoms of the virus.
However, anyone with symptoms is still being advised to self-isolate until 48 hours after their symptoms are gone.
In the nine-page letter to the Minister for Health, NPHET is advising significant changes to the testing and tracing system, which will focus on reducing the severe impacts of the virus, rather than on reducing transmission.
PCR testing will still be recommended for those who are aged 55 or over, those who are pregnant, those with a high-risk medical condition, and those who are immunocompromised or live or care for someone who is.
Asymptomatic close contacts other than healthcare workers do not need to restrict their movements.
The letter from Chief medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan, published yesterday evening, said: “It is now appropriate to transition from a response based on extensive case findings and tracing of infection to reduce transmission, towards a response focused on mitigation of the severe impacts of Covid-19, with a continuing requirement to protect those most vulnerable to the severe effects of the disease.”
In the same letter, he recommended an end to mandatory masks in retail and other indoor public settings, public transport, taxis, and for staff in hospitality settings.
Public health measures in early learning settings, school-aged childcare, primary and secondary schools, including physical distancing, the use of ‘pods’ and mask-wearing, could also be removed, NPHET said.
Masks will no longer be mandatory for public transport, but should still be advised.
NPHET said that physical distancing can be difficult on buses, trains and other public transport settings where “those who are more vulnerable to the severe impacts of Covid-19 do not always have a discretion to avoid it”.
NPHET also recommended that other public health measures, such as hygiene, ventilation and staying at home if symptomatic, should continue.
People’s individual choices should be respected when it comes to wearing of face masks and physical distancing, Dr Holohan said, as he recommended the lifting of almost all remaining restrictions.
Dr Holohan said the further easing of measures “will lead to some uncertainty” for many as to how they should protect themselves from the virus.